Human Medicines & Your Dog
On my personal social media, I am part of many doggy groups. I have a dog and I want to share his funny stories and cute pictures with the world!!
Doggy Groups on social media are great for sharing fun posts and bits of advice here and there, like where did you get that harness / toy? Or top tips when it comes to tricks or enrichment foods and products etc.
Just recently though, I have seen an increase in people turning to social media to ask how they should medicate their dog – both animal and human medications and it fills me with horror. If only they had seen the outcome of giving their dog something that was never meant for them.
It makes me wonder, why would someone turn to a faceless entity that has likely never met their dog or know anything about their health to advise on what medication is best for them?
Is it to save money?
“Vets prices are ridiculous – they just want to extort you!”
“Vets never give you the cheap alternative, £30 per item most of the time!”
Or to save time?
“Every time I ring the vets, they are busy!”
“I don’t get an instant response; they say they will call me back but sometimes I have to chase them”
Or some other reason?
“I’m a novice pet owner, I’ve never had one before and experienced dog owners always give the best advice”
“Loads of people give their dog human medicines and they are absolutely fine!!”
“My friend gives her dog over the counter medicine all the time”
“…all that about things being toxic to dogs is absolute tosh and scaremongering! I’ve had dogs all my life and they’ve always eaten human food and had the odd human tablet and nothing happened to them”
Here are all the reasons why you should not turn to the web, and why the only person you should be asking what medication to give to your dog is your vet.
Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.
The first thing to consider is the law. The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 was put in place to regulate the treatment of animals, and under this law only a veterinary surgeon can legally diagnose, prescribe, advise based on a diagnosis and perform surgery on animals. Therefore, it is illegal to advise someone on what they should give their dog if you are not a veterinary surgeon, and illegal to adhere to this advice and actually give your dog medication not prescribed by a vet.
The only exception is ‘manipulative therapies’ such as Osteapathy, Chiroractic, physiotherapy abd by implication Shiatsu, Acupressure, Massage, Tellington Touch and Lymphatic drainage but even these must only be done by and under supervision of a vet.
Do you know what can happen to your dog if the wrong dosage is given?
The second thing to consider is that most human medications are far too strong for your dog and can cause serious if not fatal reactions.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen and naproxen are particularly toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, gastric ulceration, and kidney failure, even if the dog has had a very low dosage.
Paracetamol is readily available in most homes, and certainly over the counter, and is found in medicines such as cold & flu tablets and Calpol. Paracetamol can cause swelling of the feet and the face, breathing difficulties which can progressively get worse and also a delayed damage to the liver – this is something you may not see or act on until it was too late.
Caffeine is present in some medications, particularly cold and flu and can cause increased heart rate, hyperactivity, convulsions, and increased body temperature.
Inhalers with Salbutamol can cause rapid heart rate and breathing, restlessness and low blood potassium concentration.
Loperamide is an ingredient in medication taken for diarrhoea and can cause drowsiness, constipation and even a slow heart rate, respiratory difficulties, and low body temperature in dogs. Certain breeds are particularly sensitive to this drug and would therefore fair much worse than other breeds.
Anti-Depressants commonly have an ingredient called 5-Hydrotryptophan which causes behavioural changes, drooling, tremors, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure, convulsions and in severe cases, coma.
Psoriasis Creams contain calcipotriol, tacalcitol and calcitriol which can cause severe delayed poisoning in dogs. Due to the increase in blood concentration of calcium that they cause dogs to suffer from gastrointestinal upset, thirst, increase in urine output, kidney failure, convulsions, and heart problems.
Vet versus Joe Bloggs
Okay so we’ve discussed the legalities and what certain medications would do to your dog. Something else to consider:
Joe Bloggs from the internet has never met your dog, and if they have it is in passing. They do not know their regular pulse rate, breaths per minute, temperature, underlying conditions, allergies, or sensitivities. They do not know a lot of the symptoms or conditions that a dog can have, they likely only know the ones that their dog has had. They haven’t seen the severe reactions when a dog has had a lethal dosage of a medication not prescribed to them, and they have never had to work really hard to save that dog’s life – If they had they wouldn’t be advising you to give your dog unprescribed medication in a flippant comment on social media.
The operative word in the above paragraph is flippant. Joe Bloggs comments on your post, and they comment on hundreds of others. They move on from commenting on your post with ease and they can be ‘unavailable’, ‘anonymous’ and ‘not responsible’ when it all goes wrong. There is no consequence for them on their comment.
Did you know the vet would offer you a cheaper alternative if there was one available? They are not trying to scam you, and they are not trying to only give you the most expensive medication for your pet. Sometimes, that is all there is available.
We as humans are extremely fortunate to have the NHS and to receive treatment and sometimes medication for free. We are lucky that there can be hundreds of different brands of the same product for competitive prices.
Unfortunately, the same does not apply for animals. We do have to pay for their care and when we take on the responsibility of a pet, this also means agreeing to pay for that care. There are not many competitive prices when it comes to their treatments, and if there are you can guarantee your vet will help with that.
Vets are terribly busy, and that increased during lockdown with only skeleton staff available. I am sure there are far more people available on social media to immediately comment their opinion than there are vets available, but the important question is – is it the right opinion? How can you be sure?
Please be patient. Unfortunately, the vet may be dealing with an emergency so at that time, your phone call is not their priority. If you had a canine emergency, you would want your dog to have their full attention – therefore empathise with the fact that the vet is helping someone else’s fur baby at that moment. If they are available to take your call, they will.
The issue of your dog’s medication is still likely to be there when the vet does become available, they likely already know the issue your dog is having because it is something they have diagnosed and/or treated in the past, so it may take hours, or sometimes a day or two to be able to speak to them but it is much better to take the advice of a vet than it is to take the advice of a stranger, especially a faceless one.
All dogs are different. All breeds of dog are different. They will all react differently to different things. What is good for one dog may not be good for another.
Your vet knows your dog, they have been there from the start. They have either given your dog their first injections or given your rescue dog a health check to ensure everything is okay. They have been the ones to diagnose your dog with their health issue, and they know the best care for your dog. If there is an option to give your dog a lower dosage of an over the counter human medicine, then they will tell you that. If there is not, then there is not and there are no cheap fixes that have a happy ending.
By not taking veterinary advice when giving your pet medication, it may end up costing you much more than their prescribed medication.
… It may cost you your dog’s life.
Have your say…
Do you have an experience you would like to share? Or any questions you would like to ask?
For useful tips and answers head over to Dog First Aid Manchester Facebook Page or email/telephone as below: